Who Owns Your DNA?

Twenty percent of all human genes have been patented by the companies that isolated them. That may not seem like a big deal, until you have to pay $3,340 for a breast-cancer test that could have cost $300. Bioethicist Lori Andrews is fighting back—all the way to the Supreme Court

By Nina Burleigh
Lori Andrews ethical issues DNA
Photograph: Dan Winters

In the course of assembling that information, Andrews learned that 35 percent of employers reject job applicants because of information found on social networks and that women bear the brunt of the damage; they are more likely than men to be penalized for revealing themselves online dressed provocatively in photos, or writing about getting drunk, or complaining about past employers, coworkers or clients. Andrews explores the legal pitfalls of social media in her new book, I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did, out this month.

Andrews wouldn’t be caught dead posting a sexy picture of herself, but asked about the Legally Blonde comparison, she doesn’t bother to deny it. “I realize that as I speak, I’m fiddling with a pink pen with, like, marabou feathers on it,” she says. But overall, being cute and short has its career advantages: “Because, you know, people didn’t expect that I’d actually be able to write a kick-ass brief.”

Nina Burleigh is the author, most recently, of The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox.


CLICK HERE to learn more about a woman physicist who reinvented as a forensic genealogist


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First Published January 17, 2012

Share Your Thoughts!


JoAnn 01.22.2012

Good article. Another fascinating read on medical unethicalness is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Rebecca Skloot"which goes into how the medical industry put patents back in the 1950s on Ms. Lacks very unique tissue samples unbeknownst to her family...Much more public education is needed on this topic.

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